Mathias Frank spends day in break, Thomas Frei moves up to 16th overall at Dauphiné
Saturday's stage from Briançon to Saint-François-Longchamp was rated by most as the toughest day of the Dauphiné this year. With three major climbs including the uphill finish taking on the first 14 kilometers of the Col de la Madeleine, real time could be gained or lost over the course of the day.
BMC followed a familiar plan of designating a couple riders to look for the breaks, while the rest of the team focused on keeping best placed rider Thomas Frei protected. A determined Mathias Frank found his way into nearly every break, finally joining the one that stuck and only was caught in the last 10 kilometers. Meanwhile Thomas Frei rode a smart race, sticking with the leaders and moving up to 16th overall. David Moncoutié of Cofidis gave the French their second victory in a row while Valverde matched Evans' attacks stroke for stroke to defend the overall lead.
Lelangue: Our best day ever in a Pro Tour race
"It was a really big day for us," Directeur Sportif John Lelangue said. "In the beginning there were a lot of attacks and we had someone always going with them which was the plan." Designating three riders to watch for the breaks, BMC knew they would have a good chance to pick the right one. "Mathias was jumping into nearly every break, and finally found the good one that went away after about 20 kilometers," Lelangue explained. "The break started with 20 or more riders, and had about 2 minutes on the peloton going over the Galibier." Steadily shedding riders up the Croix de Fer, the breakaway began to look like it might be able to succeed until the finish. "Just before reaching the top of the Croix de Fer, Mathias attacked and was joined by Nocentini on the descent," Lelangue said. "But Nocentini was not in very good shape so he was no help at all and Mathias attacked him again in the 1st kilometer of the final climb."
Leading the race with 10 km to go
"Mathias was riding so well and gained 30 seconds or more on the other breakaway members," Lelangue said. "With 6km to go he was finally caught by the big guns like Moncoutié, Evans and Valverde, but to have had Mathias leading a race like this so close to the finish was a really good moment for a young team like BMC." Frank who had a super strong ride up the first half of the Mont Ventoux only to fade in the last windy kilometers of the moonscape, lost enough time to be free from GC worries and at liberty to try his luck in the mountainous breakaways. "After losing so much time on Ventoux, I knew that I could concentrate on getting into the breaks during the final stages," Frank said. "I'm sure I can work my way into something promising."
Frei gains GC spots thanks to good legs and great team work
Thomas Frei also performed up to the team's high expectations by finishing 12th on the stage and jumping from 21st to 16th place overall. "Thomas also put in a good ride to place 12th," Lelangue said. "The team did an excellent job looking after him since Jeff and Florian were with him the whole day." Florian Stalder has been climbing so strongly that he has quietly moved into the top 25 on the GC as well. "Yes, Florian is well placed on the GC and that is without paying any attention to his own ambitions, but rather always doing the job for the team," Lelange said. "We even had him wait for Thomas on Ventoux to work with him, so he could certainly be top 20 if he were riding exclusively for himself." Very happy with the team that he has assembled for these European stage races, Lelangue sees big successes to come for them. "We have a really good group of stage racers now and since it is such a young group of guys, they will certainly have room for progression and improvement," Lelangue reasoned. With riders like Mathias Frank, Thomas Frei, Brent Bookwalter and the rest of the group, Lelangue has every expectation that they will be challenging for the win in these one week races in the coming year or two.
foto by AbbiOrca.com)